I've been making a concerted effort to contribute here, but see a lot of the same "in-crowd" politics as on other forums, particularly the open source ones.

I don't understand why there's a desire (much less a need) to be so brutal to newcomers and newbies.

As long as it's not a case of trolling, shouldn't everyone be civil? Most people aren't malicious. What's that line? Never mistake for ill intent what can be easily explained by stupidity. Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt.

None of us are perfect. It's not okay to bite someone's head off for failing to be the perfect question poster. Manners and decorum are not optional just because you were poorly raised.

Is the goal to replicate Lord of the Flies or to build a community where humans help each other get stuff done?

  • 3
    Do you have any examples you can point to? I looked at your profile and don't see any hostile or uncivil activity on any of your questions or answers. It's difficult ot address your concerns if they're generic like this. For example, I'm not seeing the 'hostility to newcomers' that you call out so please help us understand the context of your question.
    – fsb
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 16:56
  • Another unfortunate thing is that such evidence rapidly disappears...as in literally the comments, sometimes entire conversations just get deleted. I suppose I should begin taking screen shots. sigh Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 16:59
  • Here's one example: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/358640/… - unfortunately, the offending conversation has been deleted already...maybe you have the ability to see it? Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 17:00
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    Bingo if comments are the problem - we are and should be intentionally more quick to delete comments that are not super clear about making the post clearer. Want to raise comments as a new question here? My answer is vague since your main post didn’t have specifics
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 17:20
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    Re: "to build a community where humans help each other get stuff done?" Sorry, but the goal of Stack Exchange is not to answer everyone's question (this site is not really a personal help support) but to build a library of high-quality Q&A. The fact that the asker gets helped is just the side-effect of achieving the main goal.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 2:14
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    Bill - the first version of this question - apple.stackexchange.com/questions/358640/… - was objectively very bad and should probably be deleted if it doesn't get a substantial edit even past the edit I have made. I wouldn't worry you got down votes trying to help save a bad situation. The help center covers what not to ask and How to Ask. I would have down voted it if there weren't 5 others that already did their duty to indicate quality issues. Worse, it's still off topic even if a great edit fixes the quality issues with the post.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


I would say, yes - if hostile means that soft or vague or undocumented posts are challenged politely and constructively. If posts are edited or closed or voted down, also then yes. This is such a place where polite disagreement and high level discussion is to be had in an adult manner. Your question here is a perfect example of that - questioning our entire motivation, philosophy, and culture.

It might get up votes and it might get down votes, but the discussion should be encouraged, welcomed and dignified. Disagreement is not hostility, so I hope you aren’t referring to that above, though, in your definition of hostile. (And I don’t think you are asking that, but you didn’t put in words or examples so I had to start somewhere.)

I would say no, we never should allow bullying or mean or personal challenges to remain. They will happen, but they should be aired, discussed and ultimately changed by the moderation tools. Moderation is comments, votes, edits and flags by everyone who has the reputation to moderate. It’s also flags and actions by those of us that are elected moderators and people who post on meta.

I also respect your making this vague and not posting specific examples of this behavior so we all can agree on the ideals and goals.

There should be a bright dividing line between something being critical and ok versus something being hostile and not ok. That line is our code of conduct.

Now, the world is full of grey and language and norms make one thing appear less like hostility to some, so we do all need to be open to someone mis-typing and not meaning harm on occasion. But if that happens after flags and after clarification - patterns of clear intent are no excuse to not engage to remove or correct clear violations of the code.

Please flag potential code violations each time you see them and unless we are declining your flags, keep on us. Now we don’t need 10 flags at once if one will do, but over time careful flagging is the best defense against hostility.

If you want to flag as other any cases of unkindness, hostility or just uncertainty - I am sure the mod team will reach out privately or publicly to ensure we address anything you see. A follow on question here on meta might be good as well if you want to ask how or why a certain post ended up where it is today.

I wouldn’t recommend flagging a post with less than 5 net down votes or flagging any one instance where comments are cleaned up or a post couldn’t be saved by an edit.

  • My problem is that it's often NOT politely and constructively. Several times I've seen responses that would have led to a fist fight if it were said in person. To my chagrin, such instances often result in deleted comments, answers and even questions such that no corrective measures can be taken. Worse, if you point out that something seems crass, expect a few downvotes as your reward. The goal should be to guide others in the right direction, not to be a brick wall that punishes the slightest infraction. Admin != GOD Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 17:23
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    Yes bill. It’s hard if you expect every comment to be clear or useful, let alone all kind. flag as other is the best way to correct that issue. If you see a pattern of rudeness from one account, please flag as other and explain the pattern. We can see deleted posts and will address privately with the party any patterns. Down voting is not hostile, so I see that a lot when people feel a down vote is bad. It’s just one person casting one vote. Over time, the cream always seems to rise to the top and some unpopular answers are still valuable and useful.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 17:25
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    I’ve occasionally read some replies as hostile but after consideration realized they were probably better categorized as brusque. Like I personally try to answer a with a little less edge, but it doesn’t cross any lines.
    – dwightk
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 23:59
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    Don't mistake terse for hostile. Especially in written form, it's easy to do.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 2:26
  • Some of the boilerplate posts (Off topic, moved to X; Duplicate of Y; etc) could be rewritten in a kinder way. I'd be pretty wary of using the site again if my first post was rubber-stamped in that way. Also, I think some of the "editorial rewrites" border onto style choices rather than technical clarifications.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 8:15

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